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Phones stupid as browsers

2004-08-27 22:11:22.155492+00 by Shawn 10 comments

Boing Boing has a post about a quote from a mobile phone CEO they say just doesn't get it. Maybe he doesn't from a market standpoint, but he's certainly speaking to me. I've never understood the appeal of having internet access on a three-inch - or (yuck!) one-inch - screen. Why does this continue to sell so well?

[ related topics: Business Technology and Culture Consumerism and advertising Economics ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2004-08-28 04:46:53.241052+00 by: Jerry Kindall

Because if the phone's not crippled, you can use it (via IR, a cable, or BlueTooth) as an Internet connection for your laptop. But not, of course, if the phone company won't provide an Internet connection at all.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-08-28 13:42:13.003654+00 by: DaveP

Also because it's darned handy to be able to do things like: check the weather from your phone on the way to an outdoor party (should I stop and buy sunblock or an umbrella?), look up a bus (or BART) schedule to figure out the last one home in the evening while you're at a party, or even check your email after the last client meeting of the day to make sure you really are done working before heading to happy hour. All things I regularly do with my phone on a regular basis.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-08-28 18:32:41.849362+00 by: Dan Lyke

Ya got me. Back in the middle of the .com boom I had an OmniSky[Wiki] attachment for my Palm Vx[Wiki]. It had enough resolution that we occasionally used it for maps and I think I did a few novelty web posts, but even that lost its luster fairly quickly. Frankly I'd be happier with a phone that didn't have a power hungry color screen; let me keep my laptop for when I want that level of functionality, and give me as much battery life on the phone as you can.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-08-28 20:33:19.926616+00 by: Shawn [edit history]

Dave; I think services like weather and schedules are/would be great, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about browsing the Web. As for email: Same problem - there's way too much information in an e-mail, IMO, than can adequately be handled on such a small screen. Besides, if the off-work toggle has flipped and I'm on my way to happy hour then work is done for the day.

Jerry; providing a conduit to the Internet makes sense to me, browsing the Web - or reading e-mail - on a tiny screen does not. The phone [system] itself doesn't need to have a connection to the Internet, it just needs to provide a conduit to it.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-08-29 10:14:32.75745+00 by: DaveP

The problem is that the only way to get weather and schedules at the moment IS by browsing the web. As for email, I have the Palm version of Eudora set to download plain-text only, and only the first 2000 bytes of the message. It's enough to let me know if there's a crisis, and since I work for myself, work is never done for the day. My boss sucks.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-08-30 03:55:16.401448+00 by: krebby2k

I use my Treo for weather, traffic, movies, mapquest, and sending (not much receiving) e-mail on the run. Not every day, but a few times a week. I also love being able to pull up dictionary.com or babelfish when confronted with an odd word. Then there's wikipedia for settling arguments, or google if need be. If I'm traveling and don't have a laptop, it's cool to be able to read metafilter in a hotel lobby. Plus, it's not just a phone, it's a full Palm OS PDA with address book, notepad, MP3 player, games etc. Trust me, a 160x160 screen is *plenty* big enough for casual info-scraping!

#Comment Re: made: 2004-08-30 04:50:37.354624+00 by: topspin

I'm with DaveP. Eudora for the Palm rocks and my VisorPhone with a keyboard attached and the Blazer browser wasn't terrible for those times when I needed web access and nothing else was around.

I've "graduated" to a Sony-Ericsson T610 and a 2215 ipaQ which connect to almost anything and my reasoning for getting that phone/PDA combo was to have options for connecting to whatever might be handy and useful.

Options are good. That provider's decision to limit web access essentially limits options..... and that's bad.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-08-30 14:18:00.220546+00 by: Shawn

The concept of options cuts both ways. With every phone company just slapping on Web service my option of having such info delivered in a non-web way is pretty limited, or non-existent. I'm not saying people who want to surf on their phone shouldn't be able to, just that I don't understand how anybody can have a satisfying/useful experience on such a tiny amount of real-estate.

I use my PDA daily, for a lot of things, but I just don't consider 160x160 enough for browsing. Hell, I find 800x600 too limiting. Which is why I buy PDAs that don't have 'net access - another option that is slowly but surely disappearing.

#Comment Re: browsing on cell phone made: 2004-09-03 18:31:26.044652+00 by: andylyke

I may be a luddite, but I fall into the pool that the COO is describing. Who the hell wants it?

On the other hand - I used to work (excuse me, "verk") for Siemens, and the Germans drove us Yanks nuts with their expressed attitude of "your customers may think zey vant zat, but ve know better. Zey vant vat ve tell zem zey vant!".

I'd bet my July pay (unemployed, benefits exhausted) that the COO was German.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-09-10 13:30:14.552311+00 by: meuon

My recent acquisition of an LG VX4500 suprised me, Although it sucks at browsing the web(WAP or HTML), I paid $2.49 for Soda-Pop e-mail client, which worked very well for checking my business/critical e-mail box while on the road. - Would I use it for daily e-mail, no way. But for checking on messages, and sending a terse reply, it works well.